Lit-ster Party E-mails: Every One a Precious Gem


Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”Photo: Yun Cee Ng

Remember when young, impressionable blogger Jessica Roy went to a party populated by young, hip writer kids like Keith Gessen, Leon Neyfakh, and Moe Tkacik? She got completely disillusioned because they were not at all what she expected, so she decided to move to Paris. Well, it turns out that such parties have been going on regularly, right beneath our noses. Like, not even in Brooklyn! It turns out that every week Harper’s senior editor Christian Lorentzen sends an e-mail out to a whole crowd of bloggers, n+1 writers, and other lit-journal editorial types, inviting them to gather at Scratcher Cafe, on East 5th Street, for drinks. Judging from the invite list (picture e-mail addresses ending in,,,,, etc.), it’s a lofty crew. We don’t know what they talk about when they get there, but the e-mails we’ve intercepted give us a clue to the level of the discourse.

From: Christian Lorentzen [E-mail redacted]

Subject: Thursday

To: [Mind-bogglingly comprehensive list of struggling writer-types redacted]

There’s drinks Thursday around nine at Scratcher, 5th Street and the Bowery, these in honor of our Thraco-Illyrian forebears and the disputed sovereignty declared Sunday by their ethnic brethren to the north; I hereby recognize Kosovo.

Dear chums,

There’s drinks tomorrow at seven at the Scratcher, 5th Street and Bowery, these, because sometimes its fun to honor something inhuman, will be in honor of giant rock formations, such as you see girding the highways of New England, granite in and around the Granite State, and here I am gripped by the urge to plagiarize something about a different sort of mineral, but looking at Auden’s “In Praise of Limestone” see no lines ripe for insertion, though there are a few good ones, like, “I am the solitude that asks and promises nothing; / That is how I shall set you free. There is no love; There are only the various envies, all of them sad.” But Xian, “That’s such a downer,” you, the list, say. “Do you really expect us to show up at this bar for the umpteenth time after spout some bullshit about rocks quote some depressingly pious mid-period Auden lines? What happened to the days when our inboxes would fill up with eighty emails about Norman Mailer making love to three-hundred-pound women? Where the fuck is Jon-Jon? He was fun.” Right, I say. The earth is an oyster with nothing inside it. Not to be born is the best for man. The second best is the bailiff’s order: “Break your embraces. Dance while you can.”

Wait a minute: What did happen to the days when our in-boxes would fill up with 80 e-mails about Norman Mailer making love to 300-pound women?

Dear chums,

There’s drinks tomorrow at seven (earlier by popular demand) at Scratcher, 5th Street and the Bowery. The honor this time is manifold:

1) for the approach of April 28:

a) birthdate of President James Monroe, who presided over the Era of Good Feelings;
b) birthdate of Saddam Hussein;
c) the day Hitler married Eva Braun;
d) the last time Woody Allen’s character in Crimes and Misdemeanors slept with his wife ;
e) something else I can’t remember;

2) for the man in the gray flannel skirt;

3) for the budding fiction writer who inscribed the words CHRISTIAN IS GAY on the wall of Scratcher’s ladies’ bathroom. Good luck with that Pushcart nomination; I expect to see your name next year among The Brooklyn Literary 100.

For some reason, we’re really curious about the guy in the gray flannel skirt. Surely he would prefer the term “kilt”? Or, at least, “tartan mini”?

Dear everyone,

There’s drinks tomorrow at nine at Scratcher, 5th and Bowery, these for this one who is certainly expressing something, who a few think is expressing something wrong, who is not certain that he is not expressing something wrong, who is telling something about suffering that is not a saddening thing to anyone hearing and not a dreary thing, and who very many are certainly wanting to be doing what this one is doing, wanting to be ones clearly expressing something, and who a few are very certain this one is someone great.

Every Thursday, kids. Meet you there?

Related: Au Revoir, New York ‘Literary’ Scene!

Lit-ster Party E-mails: Every One a Precious Gem